Scotsmen lead local ‘Football’ camp 

Published 1:20 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — A wee bit of Scottish rain followed Challenger Sports coaches Craig MacDonald and Jonny Brown to Brookhaven Tuesday. The Scottish coaches are teaching the game to children through a camp hosted at the Brookhaven Recreation Department’s sports complex this week. 

Macdonald is from the small island of Barra and supports Glasgow club Celtic. He lives in Glasgow now and works with Partick Thistle Charitable Trust Fund coaching handicapped and disabled children. 

Brown was born and raised in Glasgow and supports Glaswegian club Partick Thistle. He too works with the charitable trust fund and had a chance to fly across the pond and coach in America. Together they have coached in Pensacola, Florida and Niceville, Florida before coming to Brookhaven. 

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“Someone recommended I come over here. They told me the kids are very respectful here and it would be the best summer of my life,” Brown said. “I went down to Coventry (England) for training before coming over here. It has been unbelievable to coach so far. All of the kids are good. They have a lot of respect and I love it.” 

Brown said he started coaching through community projects and wanted to have a challenge in anything he does. In Brookhaven’s camp, he took on coaching kids aged two to five years old for the first time. It was a new experience but he is happy working with them. 

Allen Ardrey, pastor at First Church of the Nazarrene, is the host family for the coaches. Brown said Ardrey was very welcoming. Macdonald said the parents have been helpful in bringing popsicles and water to practices because the coaches are not allowed to. 

“Everyone has been phenomenal and it is so nice,” Macdonald said. “The kids here are very nice and willing to help each other. I think it says a lot about this community. You can see that as well. It has been really nice and the host family is nice too.” 

Macdonald said the club Celtic opened up opportunities for Irishmen living in Scotland to play soccer when it was founded in 1887. Similarly, the Partick Thistle Charitable Trust Fund and Challenger Sports provides avenues for people to play soccer. 

“It is a gateway to opportunities,” Macdonald said.